Light. No, that's wrong, why isn't it dark? Why can I feel the moisture on my back and the chill of the earth? Where is that warmth from? Shouldn't it be cold? No, there should be nothing. Why can I feel? This is all wrong. My lungs are filled with air and my mouth is painfully dry. No water.
I can hear footsteps and shuffling, reverberating slightly, though the sound's owner is obviously trying to avoid disturbing someone. Me perhaps? They shouldn't bother; I couldn't care less. Why should I? No one cares about me, so I may as well return the favour. Who are they? Do they really think they're helping? People don't jump off bridges if they want to survive. I’m a dead girl. No matter what they do for me now, I’m only going to end up trying again. If people would stop getting in the way I’d be dead five times over by now. This is the closest I’ve got so far. But it looks like I'm not dead, for now at least. I keep my eyes closed in the vain hope that maybe that would keep me from living.
Shit, why do I have to be so curious? For some stupid reason my other senses aren’t enough to satisfy me. That warmth I felt is still here and I’m pretty sure I must be leaning on someone, if I listen closely I can hear them breathing softly. I have so many questions I could answer so simply, but something is stopping me from wanting to find out.
Whoever it is I'm leaning on shifts their weight slightly, tipping my head so that now, rather than the comforting heat of someone's chest, my head is resting on something cold, solid and far less inviting. I can't help but let my eyelids flicker open given the discomfort I'm in. Slowly, the scene around me comes into focus.
The first thing I see is a worn out boot, the owner's leg is attached to the man who I was sleeping on. He now has his back to me, rising slightly with each deep breath. Looking a little further I see an abandoned coat in a crumpled heap by the wall to my left and to my right two more sleeping bodies, neither of which are covered by more than the battered clothes they wear. I can see one of their faces, hardened skin that I would guess is maybe forty years old, his brow is furrowed even in sleep, weary bags under his eyes, his hair a faded black. The most obvious thing however, is how dirty he is. His cheeks in particular seem to be dusted with a thin layer of mud, giving the impression that he takes little or no care of himself.
The source of the shuffling now comes into view, a thin woman, pacing with her head down, her hair hiding her face from view. After every few steps she glances around, moving rapidly, in sudden jerking flinches. She seems to be wearing a tight-fit, short-sleeved shirt. The glaring morning sun makes it hard to tell, but I think she wears only black, or at least dark colours. Her skin seems extremely pale, almost white in fact.
Her fleeting eyes eventually clock me, stirring slightly, unable to stop myself from adjusting my position which has now become unbearably uncomfortable. She stops for a second, half her face covered in hair, and seems to gasp silently. Her open mouth becomes a slight smile, before letting out a strange half-laugh that echoes across the arch of the bridge I so nearly used to escape this.
Cautiously, she steps towards me, I suppose on the off-chance she had mistaken restless sleep for waking. But, despite my best efforts, she sees through my pretence.
"Hello? Are you alright?" she asks, taking another step forward. I don't reply, I don't want to be here - there's no point letting these people get to know me. "My name is Ivet," she says, "what is your name?"
Her accent reminds me of my aunt, who lived in Bulgaria for much of her life. Perhaps it is that familiarity, or the warmth in her voice that persuades me to respond.
"I'm Skye," I tell her.
She smiles gently, taking my hand in hers for a moment. I'm not sure if the gesture is for comfort or to check my temperature, but either way, her hands are strangely cold. Not exactly icy, but not welcoming either.
After looking into my eyes for a second, she releases my hand.
"Right everyone! Come and meet Skye!" She announces, bringing her hands together in a single, resonating clap.
Her request is met with groans, but their curiosity is enough to nudge them into getting up. The only one who does not complain is the man lying next to me. He props himself up quickly, rubbing his left eye with a weary palm, before turning to look at me.
His eyes are filled with a kind of broken happiness that I could recognise anywhere. I see it in my reflection every day, well, on good days.
He seems to stare at me for an age, I suppose he's surprised I'm up already...or something. He has the same, hardened, appearance as the man I was looking at earlier. Although, he is significantly younger than that man, he looks maybe two years older than me, if that. His hair is scruffy, a little longer than average and jet black. Despite how unchecked his appearance is, there is a suggestion that he does make at least some effort, as he quickly flattens down some of the more obviously wild areas of his hair.
"Hi," he says.